The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2015 Workplace Injury and Illness Data with some promising news for the waste and recycling industry: The total recordable cases declined across waste and recycling segments.
“The industry is at five-year lows in nearly all product lines,” says Bret Biggers, director of statistics and standards for the National Waste & Recycling Association. “Without making too much of the data, I would like to think that it’s due to the programs that the industry companies are promoting within their operations. Hopefully somewhere in there the association has something to do with that.”
For the waste and remediation sector, the report highlighted a decrease in total recordable workplace injury and illness cases, a slight decrease in injuries that resulted in job transfers or job restrictions, and the rate of lost workday cases also declined year-over-year. Nationally, the report indicates across all industries a downward trend of incidence rates, with the total recordable cases for private industry fell to 3.0 per 100 full time workers in 2015, down from 3.2 in 2014.
In addition, the number of cases that involve lost work days dropped to 1.9. That’s a five year low. It’s significant because the cases that involved lost work days are generally more serious cases.
According to the NWRA, the BLS data for the waste and remediation sector shows:
· The total recordable cases of workplace injury and illness in the waste management and remedial services category was 4.5 per 100, a decrease from the 2014 rate of 5.1 per 100.
· The rate for cases with days away from work was 1.9 per 100, a decrease from 2.2 per 100 in 2014.
· The rate for cases that resulted in job transfer or restriction was 1.2 per 100, the same rate as in 2014.
In addition, the BLS data found that in the subcategory for solid waste collection employees within the waste and remediation category was lower in two of three measurements:
· The total rate of recordable cases for solid waste collection employees was 6.6 per 100, down from the 2014 rate of 7.1 per 100.
· The rate of cases with days away from work was 2.9 per 100, down from the 2014 rate of 3.3 per 100.
· The rate of cases with job transfer or restrictions was 1.7 per 100, slightly up from the 2014 rate of 1.5 per 100.
“Earlier this year, NWRA convened an unprecedented industry-wide Safety Summit with the goal of significantly reducing accidents, injuries and fatalities as we build a stronger safety culture,” Anthony Hargis, NWRA national director of safety, said in a statement. “As a result, the tools and tactics we have deployed all focus on specific areas where performance can be improved, including weekly safety reminders for front line employees, to nationwide weeklong ‘Stand Down’ programs and Safety Professional Development sessions with our chapters across the country. These efforts are directly driven by the data collection and analysis we perform so we can have the greatest impact in creating a safer work environment for our employees across the United States.”
Safety has been a major focus of both the NWRA and the Solid Waste Association of North America in recent years.
Recently, Oklahoma became the latest state to enact “Slow Down to Get Around” legislation. That’s a legislative effort supported by associations.
Oklahoma joined 11 other states that have enacted Slow Down to Get Around legislation, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
Last month, SWANA issued a report documenting 98 fatalities directly related to municipal solid waste (MSW) collection, processing and disposal in the United States in the 12-month period between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the final 2014 figures for industry and occupational fatality data in April.
The occupation of refuse and recycling collector remained the fifth most dangerous in the country.
There were a total of 27 fatalities in 2014, down from 33 in 2013. Of those, 18 occurred in the private sector and nine in the public sector.
The fatality rate for refuse and recycling collectors rose to 35.8 per 100,000 workers for the year in 2014 from a rate of 33 in 2013 and 32.3 in 2012.
Industry safety remains a major concern of both industry associations and leaders.
Kenneth M. Baylor, a principal at Advanced Leadership Solutions and a long-time executive with stints at Waste Management, Republic Services and, most recently, Progressive Waste Solutions, wrote an editorial for Waste360 in August taking the industry to task for its approach on safety.
“It is well past the time to stop making excuses and look beyond regulatory compliance programs to establish safe work environments for all of our people as well as the communities they so proudly serve. Enough of the long-term plans; let’s do it now!” Baylor wrote.